MPA Curriculum

The program features a 39-hour curriculum with a nine-course core sequence, plus four specialization/elective courses in either of two tracks: Nonprofit Management or Public Management and Planning. Students may pursue a generalist MPA degree as an alternative to selecting one of the above specializations.

Students without professional public service experience are required to do a three-hour internship (20 hours/week) in addition to required coursework. Previous graduate work at UAB or another NASPAA accredited MPA program may be credited toward the degree if it is directly applicable.

Students may select a thesis or non-thesis option.

Core Courses

All students are required to take nine core courses.

Ethical and moral foundations to public service behavior. 3 hours.
Public Policy as a decision-making process. Examines environmental and organizational factors, the choice of alternatives, and the implementation and evaluation of public policy, with applied references to specific functional areas, e.g., housing, pollution, energy, and transportation. 3 hours.
Theories of organization, management, and administration. Examines both institutional and behavioral elements of organizations as they apply to public, private, and nonprofit agencies. Covers administrative and organization behavior, decision-making and democratic values, along with a treatment of bureaucratic practices and behavior. 3 hours.
Examines the institutions, principles and techniques of governmental budgeting, including the practices and fundamental concepts of public budgeting, the budgeting process and financial management. Includes an interactive laboratory format which applies budgeting fundamentals to a hands-on budget experiment. 3 hours.
Examines the major concepts, theories, procedures and themes needed for effective management of human resources in the public and nonprofit sectors. Emphasis is on the urban and sub-national settings. Topics may include merit and civil service systems, organized public labor, recruitment, classification, performance appraisal, disciplinary and grievance procedures, training and staff development, diversity and anti-discrimination policy and strategies, ethics/morality and personnel law. 3 hours.
Theory and applications of information management, technology applications and policy. Focus is on social, organizational, political and constitutional impacts of information today. Emphasizes policy and applications related to building knowledge economy, E-government applications and geographic information systems. 3 hours.
An introduction to research methodology presenting quasi-experimental and experimental research designs, exposition of qualitative and basic survey methods, and basic data analysis. 3 hours.
Using a pragmatic and applied approach, this course introduces statistical techniques used to analyze data in the social sciences including simple and multiple regression and nonlinear models. 3 hours.
*Pre-requisite – MPA 606: Foundations of Public Administration Research.
The thesis or Graduation Research Paper (GRP) is the capstone project for the MPA degree. Every student is required either a thesis or GRP at the end of their course work. 3 hours.
**Should be taken last term. Not required for students pursuing thesis option.

Course Plan

MPA courses should be taken in the correct sequence. Course plans for both specialization tracks and the generalist track can be obtained from a faculty advisor and is available as a downloadable pdf.

Specialization Tracks

Students must complete three courses in one of the two specializations: Nonprofit Management or Public Management and Planning. In addition to three specialization courses, students in non-thesis option must take one elective course.

Generalists must take two courses from each specialization; no electives are required.

Nonprofit Management Specialization

Students interested in improving their nonprofit organizational management, fundraising, and grant management skills should select this specialization. This specialization prepares students for a wide range of careers within the nonprofit sector, including middle and upper management positions, fundraising and development, grant management, and program evaluation.

Specialists must chose three courses and one elective.

The use of marketing and fundraising strategies for nonprofits. Incorporates both theory and practice as students learn the fundamentals of marketing and resource development and apply them to hands-on projects in local nonprofit agencies.
The day-to-day challenges faced by managers of nonprofit agencies, including the challenge of fund raising, balancing competing values as related to efficiency, effectiveness, and equity. 3 hours.
Covers the essentials of grant-writing and the management of grants. 3 hours.
Examines the use of Geographic Information Systems (GIS) using GIS software. It integrates theory and socioeconomic applications of GIS in the public and non-profit sector. 3 hours.

Public Management and Planning Specialization

Students interested in public management or planning should select this specialization. It prepares students for a wide variety of positions, including federal, state, and local government management; budget and financial management; planning; economic development; community development; program analysis; and evaluation.

Specialists must chose three courses and one elective.

This course is designed to introduce students to the study of state and local government administration. Introduces keys concepts related to state and local government political structures and institutions; regional, state and county economic performance and state/local government finance. 3 hours.
This course examines the historical roots of modern land use planning and explores contemporary issues in planning such as sprawl and smart growth. 3 hours.
Application of macroeconomic theory to real life problems faced by managers. Emphasis on understanding the complex real life social and economic challenges using economic principles and applying economic decision criteria in solving the problems. 3 hours.
This course provides hands-on understanding of municipal budgeting including different methods and tools of budgeting for local government organizations. Students will learn how to analyze, interpret, and evaluate financial reports generated by typical local government entities. 3 hours.
Understanding of market forces combined with non-economic variables that influence economic development process. Focus on theories and practical applications of local economic development and its processes. 3 hours.

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Elective Courses

Nonprofit Management and Public Management and Planning specialists must choose from the following electives:

Explanation of law in society and the legal setting of public administration. Examination of substantive areas of the study of law including regulatory process, administrative adjudication, the administrative procedures acts, administrative due process, judicial review, liability, and citizen's rights. 3 hours.
Examines the use of Geographic Information Systems (GIS) using GIS software. It integrates theory and socioeconomic applications of GIS in the public and non-profit sector. 3 hours.
Presents the strategic planning process as it is utilized in contemporary settings. Focuses on how the strategic planning process is applied in the public, private, and nonprofit sectors and the extent to which there is substantial variation. 3 hours.
Analytic tools for evaluating public and nonprofit programs and services. 3 hours.

Generalist MPA Degree

Students may pursue a generalist MPA degree as an alternative to selecting one of the above specializations. The generalist degree should be chosen if the student desires a broadly based degree and some familiarity with subjects in each of the specializations.

Students who desire a public administration education transferable to many different public or nonprofit settings may want to take this course of study. To complete this degree, students must take the core curriculum and at least two required courses from each of the two specializations.

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Graduation Research Paper and Thesis Option

Students taking the thesis option (Plan I) must takes three hours of Independent Study under the guidance of the thesis chair and six thesis hours.

During the last semester of study, students opting for the non-thesis (Plan II) must register for MPA 697: Graduation Research Paper, and successfully complete a graduation research paper. Such a paper will require the student to synthesize material learned over the course of the program.

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Contact the MPA Program Coordinator.